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Мichael Delyagin: What Should Workers Demand?

Мichael Delyagin: What Should Workers Demand?
Аnna Ivanova 25.08.2009

- Michael Gennadevich, you have just made public speech one of these days at the working session "About Common Requirements of Labour Collectives during Strikes and Mass Actions" which took place in Institute of Problems of Globalization which you head. Basically, it's an event which can become defining for forthcoming autumn, if forecasts for aggravation of social and economic conflicts appear to be true. Whose part do you take?

- First of all, I am on the part of common sense. Having reduced investments, the Russian business in II quarter 2009 changed survival strategy having begun scale economy on salaries. Administrative resource up to a certain time provides restraint of debts on salary and preservation of workplaces, however it can do nothing with absence of money. Result - decrease in real salary (first of all at the expense of transfer into part-time job): if in I quarter it made (in comparison with the same period of last year) 0.8%, in II quarter - 4,6% (including 10% in manufacturing industry and 14% in building). It is essentially important that there is no authentic generalizing data about falling of "grey" and "black" salaries which also, certainly, takes place and negatively influences social and economic situation. It is necessary to understand with ruthless clearness that position of workers as a result of this compelled economy in some cases becomes intolerable. With all the consequences which come with it.

- The same way as in Pikalevo?

- Pikalevo is the tip of the iceberg. Classical example - "AvtoVaz": when it will start working not to its full capacity in September after staying idle in August, workers will find out reduction intolerably low without it salaries. For considerable enough part of them the salaries will be reduced, by available estimations, to 6-8 thousand roubles a month - at that hostel of AvtoVaz costs 3 thousand (that is classical abusing of monopoly position as rent in Tolyatti is much cheaper). However even those who have apartments will fail to live on this money: food prices in the city, of course, are lower, but little less than in Moscow. Working active workers inform about attempts of owners to stop payment of salaries and even to declare lock-out, having thrown out all occupied on the enterprises (including monocities and settlements of city type where they simply won't have place to go) and having replaced them with lowly-paid guestworkers. Besides of kindling of social and international break such policy also provokes inevitable accidents as guestworkers, as a rule, simply don't have necessary qualification (for example, for work on heavy career dump-body trucks)...

- That is working-class movement growth is an objective process?

- Naturally, things mentioned causes protest and working-class movement growth. Workers of Moscow Kalibrovsky factory and in Kurgan, for example, managed to achieve payment of salary which, as you can understand, management tried to "save". However it is clear that strikes for the sake of salaries - a deadlock way.

-???

- On the one hand, having paid salary, administration of the factory could dismiss active workers under this or that pretext, having made workers defenceless and having let off the leash for subsequent economy. Ways "to put out of action" of working activists are diverse: from slipping of drugs with subsequent conviction to physical elimination. On the other hand, the trouble of workers is that they by definition do not know real state of affairs of the enterprise. Roughly speaking, they do not know and cannot know, whether the factory really has no money and if they really are absent - why: because of difficult situation, because of larceny of the director, or because of pulling funds by the owner. In case of ill-intentioned actions of top management or the owner, strike - is a right step, however, if the factory is on the verge of bankruptcy because of objective reasons, strike can appear self-destructive.

- Then, probably, control of workers is necessary?

- Popular slogans "nationalization" and "control of workers" give nothing: on the one hand, the state does not supervise its property (the same state "AvtoVaz" is being supervised, as soon as it's possible to judge, 10 times worse than private "KamAz"), on the other, mechanisms of carrying out of "control of workers" and the base which will make this control effective are not clear. The way out appears possible in realization of legitimate interests of workers by means of available tools of corporate governance. As soon as control without participation in management is fiction, not "control of workers" but "participation of workers in management" should be reasonable demand of workers.

- Control of workers is derivative of participation in management?

- Quite right. Board of directors, to be more precise - Institute of Independent Directors is a natural tool of such participation. It seems that in case when there will appear a threat of dismissal, transfer on part-time job or giving of administrative holiday, salary reduction or pay pause for a certain part of labour collective (for example, 3%), labour collective should receive representation in Board of Directors. Its directors should possess a blocking poll, that is, as a matter of fact, the right of "veto". It's necessary to elect them not through trade unions (which usually are simple appendages of administration of factories) but through Council of Labour Collective which should receive all information from them and confirm instructions according to which its representatives will vote.

- How much it corresponds to the letter and intent of the current legislation?

- Theoretically it, of course, should be registered in the legislation, however, for the present time "Edinaya Russia" dominates in the State Duma and similar mechanism can be realized only within the limits of collective agreements or on the basis of direct agreements between the owners and labour collectives. Certainly, possibility of similar expansion of the structure Board of Directors is unpleasant for any owner, however in crisis conditions responsible owner will agree on it as it will allow to provide not only balance with workers but also trust and real support from their part, it will provide effective development and realization of rational anti-recessionary policy. It is necessary to understand that without an access of workers to management of enterprises appearance of relations of trust and cooperation between them and businessmen in conditions of deepening crisis of general decline is theoretically impossible and, hence, not only growth of social intensity but also transformation of yesterday's Pikalevos into tomorrow's Lenian mines is inevitable.

- That is You propose way out not only to the workers but also to the businessmen?

- Businessmen should understand: refusal to let access of workers to control today could provoke social catastrophes tomorrow, nationalization or transformation of private enterprises into cooperative the day after tomorrow.

 

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